Chocolate-Chia Power Balls: Gluten, Fructose & Dairy Free
These raw food treats make a delicious pick-me-up, and they're chock full of antioxidants, healthy fats, and protein, among other essential nutrients.
Here's a quick run-down on the super-foods that make up these delicious fudgy balls:
- Chia seeds and macadamia nuts are high in Omega 3 fatty acids; chia seeds also contain complete protein, many antioxidants, and high levels of calcium.
- Cacao (raw cocoa) is packed with antioxidants and many essential minerals, including magnesium, iron, manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and phosphorus. According to David Wolfe, author of the book Naked Chocolate, it is the highest natural source of antioxidants (15 times more than wild blueberries) and the number one food in magnesium among other nutrients.
- Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats in general and a good alternative to grains, used in moderation.
- Coconut oil is being touted as the healthy saturated fat, and may have anti-bacterial properties that will benefit your gut. It has even been found to be reasonably effective against candida. However, as this article makes clear, the science is not yet in. In short, keep to moderation, even for supposed super foods.
- Even Stevia has some claim to improving health (not just by helping you avoid sugar) and has been used in the treatment of diabetes for years in Japan.
- Glucose (also sold as dextrose) is not a super-food and should be used in moderation. It is basically the half of white sugar that isn't fructose. So while it doesn't have all the downsides of fructose, it doesn't add any nutrients either. Note that glucose is not a preservative, as sugar is, so store it in the fridge.
Chocolate-Chia Power Balls: Gluten, Fructose and Dairy Free
Yields 30 balls
- 1 cup ground nuts (any sort, but a mix of almonds and macadamia nuts is my favourite)
- 3-4 tbsp raw cacao powder (ideally sifted)
- ¼ cup glucose (also called dextrose) (see notes for alternatives)
- ½ cup chia gel made by soaking 1.5 tbsp chia seeds in ½ cup water, overnight (see notes for alternatives)
- 3 tbsp (42g) coconut oil, liquified
- 10-20 drops liquid stevia (optional)
- ½ tsp peppermint or vanilla essence (optional)
- 1 tbsp desiccated coconut for coating
- 1 tbsp extra cacao for coating
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the ground nuts, raw cacao powder and glucose powder, using the back of a fork to break up any lumps. If you like dark chocolate, use 4 tbsp of cacao. If you're not sure, use 3 tbsp now, and add more later if you like.
If you'd like to add some peppermint or vanilla essence, add it to the liquid coconut oil now.
Add the chia gel and melted coconut oil and mix well with the fork.
Taste your mixture. If you'd like it sweeter, add 10 to 20 drops of liquid stevia. If you're used to eating sugar-free, you may not need this.
Place the coconut and extra cacao into two small bowls or saucers.
Roll your mixture into balls about the size of large, unshelled macadamia nuts, or small walnuts. Roll into the bowls of cacao or coconut to coat. You could also use crushed nuts.
Refrigerate to harden (or eat one right away), and store in the fridge.
This recipe makes about 30 balls. If you don't have company coming, you may want to halve the recipe, though they do keep well for a week or more in the fridge.
Variations and substitutions
This is a very forgiving recipe. You can really vary the ingredients to suit your taste and your pantry cupboard.
If you don't want to wait for your chia seeds to gel, you can use them plain, and substitute glucose syrup, rice malt syrup, or honey (if you don't mind the fructose) for the glucose powder.
If you want to use the chia gel and don't have any glucose, just use a little less water with the chia (or reduce the whole gel amount by up to one third) and use extra stevia instead.
If you don't have time to roll all those little balls, make a slice instead! Press the mixture into a loaf pan or equivalent, so that it's about 1/3 inch deep. Sprinkle with coconut and press in slightly, if desired. Freeze or refrigerate to harden, then slice into one inch squares. Store in the fridge.
Kirsten McCulloch is an Australian freelance writer passionate about living a more sustainable, healthy life, for herself, her family and the planet. She is the author of Less Toxic Living: How to Reduce Your Exposure to Toxic Chemicals - an Introduction for Families and writes about non-toxic living and other aspects of a healthy home at SustainableSuburbia.net, where she is currently in the midst of two months of fabulous GIVEAWAYS! You can get the PDF of her book for free at lesstoxicliving.net, download her free non-toxic cleaning printables, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.